During our recent Spring Recess my family spent the week in Disney World, which is truly the most magical place on earth! Although there are many lessons that can be learned from the way Disney does business and how it treats its customers, there was one thing that stood out to me during my trip. Two weeks before we went to Disney, I celebrated my 39th birthday, which my wife shared with the staff at our hotel prior to our arrival. Upon checking in late at night (our flight was delayed because of inclement weather), I was immediately "pinned" with the phrase "Happy Birthday Tony" and I was encouraged by the concierge to wear the pin every day during my stay. Although I was slightly uncomfortable with the idea of wearing this pin everywhere, I agreed to it because my son thought it was so cool. Well, I reluctantly put the pin on my jacket and we started making our way to the room. On our walk, we encountered two Disney employees and both excitedly greeted us and explicitly acknowledged me, "Happy Birthday Tony - we hope you have a great celebration!" Well, even though I was exhausted, hungry and a little cranky, these interactions made me smile and actually changed my mood - I couldn't help but feel better and pretty happy. So, I wore the pin every day we were in Disney - whether we went to one of the parks to explore the rides or we were out for dinner at a nice Disney restaurant, I wore that little pin and the experience was magical! No matter where we were in Disney, I was wished a Happy Birthday throughout the day and people were genuinely happy to be celebrating my birthday with me and it took my experience to a whole other level - it made me feel awesome and special!
Well, after getting home and going back to school, which was especially tough because the magic of Disney was lacking, I realized that we could recreate some of the magic in our school with a little pin - a potentially magical pin! What if children wore pins for their birthday? What if children wore a pin to celebrate the day they learned to read? What if children wore a pin when they were a Bucket Filler and were kind to someone else? What if children wore a pin when they successfully understood a concept in one of the content areas? And then, the community members throughout our building celebrated those special moments with the children as they walked the hallways, ate lunch or learned in the classroom! "Hey Sam, Happy Birthday!" "Hey Alex, Congratulations on learning to read - that is awesome!" "Hey Zack, Congratulations on being Bucket Filler of the Week!" I think if these types of exchanges permeated our buildings, our kids could not help but feel good about themselves; could not help but smile; and could not help but feel happy! And we all know that when children feel happy and feel good about themselves, their levels of self-confidence skyrocket and there are endorphins released in the brain that could avail them to more learning! I am not talking about inauthentic positive stroking just to make kids feel good for no reason! I am talking about specific and positive feedback that helps children build their self-image in concrete ways and puts them in a frame of mind to move on to more learning and greater accomplishments all while feel confident, happy and positive!
So, let's do it - let's bring some Disney magic to our buildings and make our kids feel awesome and special!